GRACE changes practices to meet rising demand for client needs amid COVID-19

GRACE issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
GRACE issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

GRACE issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Image description
GRACE has issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially. (Courtesy GRACE)
Image description
GRACE workers wear masks while assisting with the drive-thru line for the food pantry. (Courtesy GRACE)
Image description
GRACE workers wear masks while collecting items in the food pantry for the drive-thru line. (Courtesy GRACE)
Image description
A GRACE worker loads a car with food pantry items. (Courtesy GRACE)
Image description
GRACE CEO Shonda Schaefer, left, said the nonprofit is seeing triple the amount of clients as normal. (Courtesy GRACE)
Image description
GRACE issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially. (Courtesy GRACE)
Updated 12:40 p.m. April 8

On a typical Wednesday afternoon, the waiting areas of the Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange nonprofit group would see about 20 families, officials said. But on Wednesday, March 18, that number tripled despite the fact that the facility was only open for half the day.

“It’s starting to look pretty dire around here,” GRACE CEO Shonda Shaefer said. “[Our need] really did increase dramatically.”

In the wake of shutdowns and sparse grocery aisles with novel coronavirus concerns, GRACE is trying to meet the needs of three times more clients than normal, Schaefer said. Additionally, donations are down, worsening the issue and putting the future of GRACE in question, she said.

“The reality is that there's no funding coming in,” she said. “Contributions are down. People are freaking out, understandably.”

Calls to GRACE have not decreased since March, said Vanessa Lewis, marketing and communications manager for GRACE. People are coming to GRACE looking for assistance with their rent and utility payments, in addition to food, she said.

Foundations that normally support GRACE via revenue from the stock market have also slowed their contributions, Schaefer said. GRACE fundraising events have been canceled, and the GRACE resale stores and Donation Station have closed until further notice.

In normal circumstances, if GRACE is overloaded with clients, it is able to refer some of these to local church partners, Schaefer said. However, GRACE’s partner churches have closed to protect people, leaving GRACE to face the community's needs alone.

“These are people who are coming through and picking up peanut butter and pasta because there's not enough food in the house to serve all these kids home from school and all that,” she said.

While most people donate or organize food drives when GRACE faces shortages, that is simply not advisable for the time being, Schaefer said. Anything that requires people to get in the car and shop or interact with others only increases the risk of exposure to the disease. This has affected the way GRACE meets its clients now: having clients take a number and then wait in their cars for that number to be called. GRACE’s food pantry has also adopted a drive-thru service.

In addition to changing its food pantry system, GRACE's health clinic has also pivoted to implement over-the-phone health screenings and to provide telemedicine. Disinfection checks are routinely made at GRACE's facility throughout the day, officials said.

GRACE has issued a red alert to the community to encourage them to contribute to GRACE financially and help the relief organization meet the needs of people who had been able to make ends meet before but now find themselves unable to do so, Schaefer said.

Since GRACE issued its red alert message, people have been stepping up to assist the nonprofit organization, Lewis said.

"GRACE has been extremely touched by the hearts of the local community," she said in an email. "We have seen an increase in financial and in-kind food donations. Individuals, families and businesses are being creative and doing what they can to reach out and support GRACE and the families that we serve."

People can provide emergency support to the community in response to COVID-19 by visiting and clicking on the “Donate Now” button. People can also go to Amazon and purchase specific items from the GRACE needs list and have them delivered to GRACE in Grapevine.

For those unable to contribute, Schaefer said she would ask them to pray.

“Pray for the families that we're serving. Pray for the staff and the volunteers who are making the sacrifice to be here and for the donors and for our community leaders who are going to help walk us through this,” she said. “We recognize that we're all in this together and that everybody is fearful.”
By Miranda Jaimes
Miranda has been in the North Texas area since she graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014. She reported and did design for a daily newspaper in Grayson County before she transitioned to a managing editor role for three weekly newspapers in Collin County. Now she's in Tarrant County, mostly, and has been an Impacter since 2017 as the editor of the Grapevine/Colleyville/Southlake edition.


Various intersections along SH 26 in Colleyville will have a single lane closed April 9-17. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
LANE CLOSURE: SH 26 in Colleyville to have single-lane closures April 9-17

Various intersections on northbound and southbound SH 26 will have single-lane closures from April 9-17, a Texas Department of Transportation news release announced.

CV Local Juicery and DessertsRx stopped by Colleyville City Hall and the city's Police and Fire Departments to deliver immune-boosting beverages and snacks. (Courtesy CV Local Juicery)
Colleyville first responders receive donation from local businesses

Two local businesses have teamed up to help provide Colleyville first responders with immune-boosting products.

Drivers on April 8 parked outside Medical City Plano and honked, flashed lights and cheered for health care workers as confirmed cases of the coronavirus continued their climb in the region. (Courtesy Medical City Plano)
ROUNDUP: Coronavirus continues to affect metroplex

Here are five stories about the continued impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Main Street Fest has been rescheduled for later this year. (Courtesy Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Main Street Fest in Grapevine rescheduled to June

The Grapevine Convention and Visitor Bureau announced April 8 that its annual craft brew experience will go on, just on a different date.

Elevated water levels at Grapevine Lake have closed some parks and trails. (Photo by Anna Herod/Community Impact Newspaper)
Grapevine discourages gatherings and Easter egg hunts this weekend

The Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department and the city of Grapevine are reminding residents that social gatherings and group activities are not allowed, in spite of the Easter weekend.

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More Texans have filed for unemployment in past three weeks than in all of 2019

For the second week in a row, more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to federal data.

The city of Colleyville mailed out the first round of gift cards in March, seen on the left, and is conceptualizing what the second gift card will look like, which is seen on the right. (Courtesy city of Colleyville)
Colleyville to circulate second round of $35 gift cards

The city of Colleyville agreed April 7 to distribute a second wave of $35 gift cards to resident mailboxes.

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
State legislators request federal officials halt activity on Texas Central's high-speed rail project

Dozens of elected officials representing Texas requested the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put an end to activity related to Texas Central’s high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.

Venue Verona Villa is located on Dallas Parkway. (Courtesy Verona Villa)
ROUNDUP: DFW businesses, ISDs respond to outbreak

Here are five stories on how business and school districts in the metroplex are adapting during the coronavirus pandemic.

This menu assortment features a variety of foods offered from Zatar. (Courtesy LDWW Group)
Two more vendors announced for Grapevine’s upcoming Harvest Hall; food trucks to expand reach of 6 kitchens

Vendors have been selected for two of the remaining three stalls in Harvest Hall, a European-style food hall opening this summer in Grapevine.

A sphere similar to this one will be the new piece of public art on Grapevine Main Street. (Courtesy city of Grapevine)
Public art to bring foot traffic to north Grapevine Main Street

A new piece of art work will soon make its way to Grapevine Main Street.

Glade Road is one of the projects the city approved in its Capital Improvement Plan in September 2019. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
Two road projects in Colleyville to move forward

Colleyville is making progress on installing a new roundabout on McDonwell School Road and improving Glade Road.